How one woman is planning for a future as an elder orphan.
As my age increases, long-term care planning and setting up my life to age comfortably can no longer delay.
Like many of us 55 years of age (and over) most have not planned. But for the adults who live without a spouse or adult children - we cannot afford to put it off. Even my parents delayed making arrangements. But they had offspring to rely on. I don’t. And since I work with aging experts at SeniorCare.com, they encourage me not to ignore my situation.
The Matters of Aging Alone
- How do I understand my health care challenges and plan for them?
- Will exercise be enough to maintain physical fitness?
- How do I keep my brain sharp?
- Can I sustain good health through eating healthy foods?
- How should I invest and save money?
- When should I take Social Security benefits?
- Will I be able to afford health care?
- Can I retire?
- Will I have to work the rest of my life?
- What are my long-term care needs?
- Does aging-in-place make sense?
- How do I stay connected and avoid isolation?
"Concerns about my elder care started after my parents' death. You see I helped care for them and once they were gone, it hit me, 'who will do that for me?'"
Since the topic affects me intimately, I'm constantly thinking through the issues but found that I have few people to bounce off ideas and solutions with, so, I created a Facebook group to help me build instant support. The group is called Elder Orphans and we're close to 5,000 members. The discussions are very lively and what I love most about the members is that we're in the same circumstance.
According to research on the elder orphans, the penalties for not having a plan can be extensive. According to Dr. Maria Carney, the geriatrician and research scientist, older adults have a higher risk of experiencing cognitive decline, developing coronary heart disease, falling, and even dying early.
These risks increase for people living alone and who are socially isolated. They have higher incidences of medical complications, mental illness, mobility issues and health care access problems.
This is not good news for us, the single without offspring or partners. As Baby Boomers turn 65, the aging alone segment will increase (Census 210).
Who Are Elder Orphans?
- We are the socially and physically isolated living in local communities.
- We live without a family member or a designated surrogate.
- We have a higher vulnerability to losing the decision-making capacity.
- We use only a few community resources.
- We have a high risk of losing independence and safety.
- We aren’t acknowledged (as a group) that will need more attention and care.
What Needs to Happen?
The geriatrician says, “The medical and social community must actively screen for elder orphans before they lose function or admitted to a healthcare facility.” Read more about her elder orphan research for more details.
Here's What I'm Doing
- I've moved to a walkable/livable community, so I'm not car dependent.
- Eat lots of fresh veggies, fish, legumes, and avoid red meat and sugar.
- Work and pay off my bills.
- Saving money.
- Started an aging alone group in Dallas - to build face to face connections with folks like me.
- Have put my legal docs in place.
- Have a good health care insurance plan.
Please join us on Facebook if you're 50 and older, and living alone without the support of a spouse, partner, or nearby family.
- By Carol Marak
Carol Marak, aging advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology. Carol ages alone and shares her experiences with followers via Next Avenue, Huffington Post, and over 40 newspapers nationwide.
“An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States,” U.S. Census Bureau.
“The Growth of the U.S. Aging Population” Seniorcare.com.